Tag Archives: N.J. Lindquist

Highlights from Write Canada 2015

I spent part of last week at Write Canada, an annual conference for Canadian Christians who write and/or edit. This is my happy place, where I gain practical teaching and build friendships, in an atmosphere that renews my spirit.

Write Canada 2015 Canada's largest conference for Christians who write

After many years at the Guelph Bible Conference Centre, the conference moved to a Toronto hotel this year to be more accessible. This was a positive step, although a few logistics need tweaking for 2016.

I missed the restful beauty of the grounds in Guelph, but the open-air market behind the hotel provided fresh Niagara strawberries and there was a lovely little park a few blocks away.

Best thing about this year’s conference, for me?

Janet Sketchley and Matthew Sketchley at Write Canada 2015

One of my sons attended with me. Matthew was a runner-up in the Fresh Ink Contest at the university level. He can write circles around me, and that makes me proud. If you like dark fantasy from a Christian perspective, keep an eye out for him in the next few years.

Other best thing? Early morning and impromptu prayer times with treasured people (you know who you are.)

What did I learn?

From the panel on book launches (I was one of the panelists): One panelist recommended the short ebook, Hosting a Virtual Book Release Party by Shanna Festa. Another reminded me to contact the local cable TV channel with my book news.

From the Titles, Keywords and Blurbs workshop with NJ and Les Lindquist: The homework gave me a decent beginning on the back-cover blurb for Redemption’s Edge #3, and the workshop suggested No Safe Place may not be the best title for this one.

Indie Author/Publisher class with suspense author Linda Hall:

  • Free “simplenote” app for note-taking, syncs from one device to another.
  • Beta Readers: give them a few questions (sequence, believability, characters etc)
  • Android tablet: Google Play Books will read your manuscript aloud in epub format – read along silently with it to see what you catch.
  • If your ebook includes internal graphics, reduce them to 500×700 pixels or less. Link them to full-sized images on your website if necessary.
  • Cover: Can you read the print cover from 10 feet? Can you read the ebook cover in a thumbnail? Keep the title at/near the top so it won’t be lost if print books are stacked in a tier.
  • theindieview.com/indie-reviewers/ is a list of reviewers of indie books.
  • Goodreads for Authors course

Marketing Best Practices with Mark Lefebvre from Kobo:

  • The “3 P’s of Self-Publishing Success: practice, patience, persistence” – to which I add a fourth: prayer.
  • Your “street team” is your secret weapon. Treat them well.
  • Set up an Amazon Central page for the Canadian and international sites, not just the US one.
  • Book signing tip: have a stack of books ten feet away from you, so people can check them out without fear that you’ll “sell at them.”
  • Wattpad can be a great place to find beta readers and reach your target audience, but it needs an investment of time.
  • $1.99 is the worst price for an ebook online.

Going Global: Write Locally, Publish Globally, with Mark Lefebvre from Kobo: In the US, most ebooks sold are for Kindle, but Kobo outsells Kindle in Canada and in the rest of the world (Kobo started in Canada and is now part of the Japanese Rakutan company).

Writing from the Middle with writing teacher and thriller author James Scott Bell: I need to read this book. He made a lot of sense in the one-hour workshop. (No surprise. I’ve learned a lot from his other books on writing.)

The Word Awards Gala (for work published in 2014): My romantic suspense, Secrets and Lies, didn’t win in the suspense category, but to be a finalist is still a positive endorsement of the book’s quality. The suspense winner was Sandra Orchard’s Blind Trust, (Book 2 in an excellent series. I suggest starting with #1, Deadly Devotion.) You can read the full list of winners on The Word Guild site or by clicking the photo below.

Book finalists in The Word Awards, for work published in 2014

Book finalists in The Word Awards, for work published in 2014

Review: My Brother’s Keeper, by N. J. Lindquist

My Brother's Keeper, by NJ LindquistMy Brother’s Keeper, by N. J. Lindquist (That’s Life! Communications, revised edition, 2014 — formerly titled In Time of Trouble)

Shane Donahue is 18 years old and he hates his life. And his super-perfect twin brother, Scott. They’re identical twins, but they’ve turned into polar opposites. Scott excels at everything, while Shane… well he’s ordinary at best.

He’s been dumped from the basketball team, fired from his job, he’s failing at school, and even in the party crowd he can’t rise to the top. Oh, and his dad took his car away after the latest speeding ticket.

The characters are real, complex, and Shane will capture your heart in the opening pages even while you’ll be shaking your head at his attitude. His frustration, his sense of hopelessness to be good at anything, are feelings we know too well. He doesn’t really know who he is—just who he’s trying to project himself to be.

Favourite quote: Shane describes one of his friends, Ethan, as “kind of comfortable to be around. Like an old pair of sweat pants. He’s maybe the only person who’s never tried to change me.” [Kindle location 495]

As Shane’s world falls apart and his family life gets more turbulent, he figures he’s far enough gone that he might as well check out this God stuff Ethan’s been spouting. It’s either that or kill himself and get it over with.

Shane doesn’t expect what he hears to make so much sense, or to realize he wants God in his life. He also doesn’t expect life to then get harder! His father is more angry about God-talk than he was about Shane’s plummeting grades, and the party crowd is downright hostile about the change in him.

You don’t have to be an 18-year-old boy to appreciate My Brother’s Keeper. It’s for everyone who’s ever felt like a loser, ever felt too far gone to change, or ever felt too ordinary to be any use to God.

N.J. Lindquist is a Canadian author and speaker who has played key roles in The Word Guild and in the Hot Apple Cider anthologies. As well as writing YA fiction under her own name, she writes cozy mysteries as J.A. Menzies. For more about the author and her writing, visit her website: njlindquist.com.

[Review copy from my personal library.]

Advice I’d Give a Newbie Writer

Following the biweekly series of writing-related posts on Ruth L. Snyder’s blog hop, here are my thoughts for new writers:

You

You are a writer. Don’t wait until you have something published to call yourself one. We tend to be afraid others will laugh at us or think we’re being pretentious, but the truth is, if you write, you’re a writer. Owning that facet of your identity, and giving yourself permission to be that part of who you are, is a step forward, and if you don’t take your writing seriously, no one else will.

You’re not just a writer, though. Don’t neglect the other areas of your life, even if this one’s the most fun.

Write

Take regular time to write. Little bits will add up. If you want to stick with this long-term, learn to write when the muse is silent and when you’d rather be doing anything else. Writing is work.

Keep writing. When you finish a project to the best of your ability, write something else. Don’t tie your hopes to one thing.

Remember the difference between writing for personal expression and writing for readers. They’re both valuable, but if you want others to read your work you need to revise with their interests in mind.

If you decide to self-publish, do the research first. And hold yourself accountable to produce a quality product, including cover art and editing. Don’t sabotage what you’ve written by packaging it poorly.

Connect

Get to know other writers online or in person. Learn from their experiences and their mistakes. These are the people who will encourage and understand you, and you’ll do the same for them. Help other writers, with no agenda. Some of it will come back to you anyway. My favourite online writers’ organizations: The Word Guild, InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship, American Christian Fiction Writers.

Connect with other writers, attend conferences if you can. Be teachable, and don’t turn getting published into an idol. Enjoy the journey, and remember that anything worth doing will take time and practice. If you’re good today, imagine how much better your writing will be after you’ve put in your “apprenticeship”.

On conferences: don’t wait until you’ve “earned” the right to be there. The sooner you go, the less bad habits you’ll have to un-learn later. And the more writing friendships and contacts you’ll develop. My favourite conference: Write Canada. Choose a conference based on location but also based on faculty and course options. If you can’t get to one, there are online offerings like WANA International, and many conferences offer mp3s or CDs of their teaching sessions.

Learn

As well as conferences, check out books and blogs on writing. A few books I’ve reviewed and recommend: You Are A Writer by Jeff Goins; The Art and Craft of Writing Christian Fiction by Jeff Gerke; Unleash the Writer Within by Cecil Murphey. Blogs I find helpful: How to Write a Story by Valerie Comer; Write With Excellence by N.J. Lindquist; The Seekers (group blog). There are, of course, many more resources. Feel free to leave your favourites in the comments! 

Quality

Do your very best. Don’t let fear of imperfection keep you from sharing your work, but remember to make that work shine as brightly as you can. Serve the art. Don’t be careless with it. This goes double if you’re a Christian. Yes, God may have given you the idea. But He gave you the task of presenting it well. He can use poor writing, but good writing gets into the hands of many more people who He may want to touch with it.

The only way to know you won’t succeed is to quit, so persevere.

Follow

I mention this last, but if you’re a Christian it actually needs to come first: pray. If God has gifted you to write, He will make a way to use what you write. It may not be what you have in mind, nor on your timetable, but His way is best. Follow His leading, even if it’s into areas of writing that aren’t your top choice. He knows where this will go, long-term.

To read what other writers are saying about this, follow the blog hop: Just click on the image below.

Blog hop for writers

Writing Tools I Use

Why did I abandon mechanical pencils for pens? pen and notes

When I first started writing, I had a thing for mechanical pencils (only the .5mm ones… I was a purist). And I learned to print very small, to cram all the words I could onto a bit of scrap paper.

Perhaps you’ve figured out why I don’t do that anymore… something about trying to see those faint pencil-scratchings while using both hands to type what I’ve written.

Miniscule pen-scratchings, however, are still visible, progressive lenses notwithstanding.

These days, even my first draft is usually done at the keyboard, but devotional notes often come during my morning quiet time with God, and sometimes I write reviews or other blog posts in waiting rooms and such.

On to today’s post: Writing tools. Not resources, because that’s a different post altogether.

Fiction tools, to be specific, because I need more of those.

  • Pen and paper. I don’t leave home without it 🙂
  • Computer, printer, internet, email, Google etc. And backup. Flash drives, dvds, Dropbox for off-site storage.
  • How to Find Your Story and Character Creation for the Plot-First Novelist, both from Jeff Gerke. These are interactive worksheets, so I call them tools instead of resources. I bought them together in the Writer’s Foundation Bundle. What I like about these is they walk me through the discovery process and help me think deeper than I might otherwise go.
  • Microsoft OneNote. Those closest to me have heard me rave about the features of this amazing product. I have a OneNote “binder” for online writing and one for each of my novels including the works-in-progress.
  • Scrivener. I’m new to this tool, using it as I revise Secrets and Lies, but as soon as I saw the first video tutorial I was a fan. (Find Scrivener here)
  • Microsoft Excel. I confess I forgot this one until I read NJ Lindquist’s post on writing tools. I don’t use Excel a lot, but as well as keeping track of writing expenses and income for Revenue Canada, I keep a master list of character names in an Excel file. I can sort by first name, last name and by story. That saves me from having too many names beginning with the same letter. Doesn’t help with the more subtle similarities… part of my revisions to Secrets and Lies will be the re-naming of a few individuals. At present there are characters named Hill, Stairs, LaMontagne (the mountain) and Cliff. Wonder what my subconscious was up to with all that!
  • binder and highlighted textHighlighters, pens and binder. Margie Lawson’s online course, Empowering Character Emotions, taught me the basics of her EDITS system, so when it’s final-draft time I print the manuscript and colour-code it to see what still needs work.
  • A program called Klok (I use the free version) that lets me track my time. It helps keep me accountable to actually work, and it lets me see where I’m putting my time. (Find Klok here)

pry bar
These are the tools I use. If you’re a writer, what about you?

Bonus tool: my absolute favourite non-writerly tool, which I am now honour-bound to include in a novel (and I think I know where… she rubs her hands and cackles with glee) → → →

Reader or writer, if you’re interested in writerly tools, click the blog hop image and you’ll find other posts on the same topic.

Blog hop for writers

Review: Shaded Light, by J.A. Menzies

Shaded Light, by JA MenziesShaded Light, by J.A. Menzies (MurderWillOut Mysteries, ebook version 2013)

It’s the July long weekend, and there’s a house party at George and Ellen Brodie’s new mansion in an exclusive Toronto community. Expected guests: their son, his close friend, Ellen’s country cousin, both of George’s lawyer business partners and their wives.

But there are also unexpected guests, three to be exact: a black sheep nephew, an ex-wife, and a wallflower sister.

Add in two household staff to complete the picture.

At least one of the fourteen will die before the party’s over. Because at least one other among them a murderer.

Shaded Light reads like a contemporary Agatha Christie novel. Instead of Hercule Poirot, readers meet Detective-Inspector Paul Manziuk (man’s-hook) and rookie detective Jacqueline Ryan. He’s experienced, old-school and white, she’s young, female and black.

Manziuk’s under pressure to catch a serial killer who leaves no clues, and now he’s handed the Brodie case too. He doesn’t have time to find out if Ryan can do the job… or if she’s just a political appointment.

To solve the case, Manziuk and Ryan must pierce the suspects’ outer facades and untangle the secrets within. It’s fun to watch them learn to work together along the way.

Shaded Light is book one in the Manziuk and Ryan mystery series, originally published by St. Kitts Press in 2000. The newly-issued ebook includes the author’s original prologue, omitted from the print book. The prologue works well to set the tone, and I think it’s an improvement.

I read the print version years ago and was curious to read it again. The story holds up well to a second reading. As it happens, I only remembered a few details and none of them spoiled the ending. Even if I’d remembered whodunnit, it would have still been a good read to watch the case set up and the unfold.

J.A. Menzies is the pen name of N.J. Lindquist, a Canadian author, speaker and teacher who writes fiction and non-fiction for adults and young adults. She’s a founding director of The Word Guild, co-editor of the Hot Apple Cider anthologies, and she’s usually juggling two or three projects at a time. With such a diverse list of activities, you can see why she chose to use a pen name to minimize reader confusion. To learn more about the author, visit Canadian Mystery Author J.A. Menzies.

Shaded Light and its sequel, Glitter of Diamonds, are both available as ebooks, and J.A. Menzies is working on a third in the series. I look forward to spending more time with these two detectives.

Purchase links for Shaded Light: Amazon.ca, Amazon.com, Kobo, Ganxy.

[Review copy provided by the author. Amazon links are affiliate links for The Word Guild.]

Celebrating Encouragement

?????

At the Releasing Stifled Christians blog this week, NJ Lindquist posted about the various possible origins of the celebration and the implications they could have for us today:

The story I like best is the one about an early Roman Christian named Valentine who was imprisoned because of his faith. Among his friends were many children who tossed notes of concern and love through the bars of his cell. Unfortunately, he was executed on February 14th. Later, this day was named St. Valentine’s Day after the martyr.

Cool. The thought of having a day to remind us to cheer up other people intrigues me—like maybe it could actually do some good.

What if we intentionally used our words for encouragement? Please click over to read the full post: Putting the Heart Back in Valentine’s Day.

Interview: The Editors of A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider (part 2)

Last Friday we began an interview with N.J. Lindquist and Wendy Elaine Nelles, the co-editors of A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider. [If you missed it, here’s part one.] Here’s where we left off:

Janet: I’m not sure where you found time to write, but you each contributed a piece for the anthology as well. Was it difficult editing one another’s work without that second, impartial editor?

N.J. LindquistNJL: We tried to get at least a first draft done before the submissions deadline because we knew how swamped we’d be after that. I actually tried writing about four other short stories before I hit on the one that we used in the book.

I have two terrific concept/substantive editors who live close-by, so they always read my work first anyway. (My #2 son and my husband, in case you’re wondering.) They give me very honest and often annoying feedback. So I don’t think editing our own pieces was a huge problem. I think I was as tough on Wendy as I’d been on everyone else.

The real problem was that we kept leaving our own pieces to the last to edit, which wasn’t good.

Wendy Elaine NellesWEN: Yes, we were tough on each other’s pieces too, and we went through a number of revisions just like everyone else. But it was hard slogging because we were completely exhausted by the time we focused on finishing our own pieces at the end.

I deliberately chose to write someone else’s story, because I think too often writers who are Christian focus only on their own experiences when many other people have wonderful stories others would benefit by reading. But writing a 3,500 word human interest profile is a huge amount of work, because you have to get to know the people, do lengthy interviews, ask the right questions, transcribe everything that was said, organize the material, condense it all, focus on the story aspects, get the answers to any missing details, retain the other persons’ voices… and make sure that you have represented them fairly, accurately and compellingly.

Janet: Contributors had to be Canadian who are Christian (as defined by their acceptance of the Apostles’ Creed). They also had to be members of The Word Guild. What collective benefit does this bring to contributors and to TWG?

NJL: If I’m going to invest my time in someone, I want it to be for a person who understands the value of being part of a team. So working only with members of The Word Guild seemed logical to me. No, just becoming a member by paying one’s dues doesn’t guarantee the person won’t just get what he or she wants and then leave, but it’s a start.

Also, The Word Guild is promoting the book, so it’s only logical to prefer that the writers in the book be members.

WEN: I think that people don’t always understand that both the Hot Apple Cider books were created to benefit ALL members of The Word Guild, whether or not they were chosen to be in the books. We’re modeling what it means—and the amount of work it takes—to produce an excellent product that can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with any other book on the market. We’re modeling working together as a team, to the benefit of enhancing everyone’s career. We’re increasing the public profile of all Canadian writers who are Christian, and everyone who’s in The Word Guild.

I like using the analogy “a rising tide lifts all boats.” We are working hard to enlarge the market and strengthen the publishing community for all Canadian writers who are Christian.

Janet: The Word Guild raised the money to pre-purchase 30,000 copies of A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider to donate to World Vision for their Girls’ Night Out and Couples’ Night Out programs. This happened with the first book too, so obviously it’s considered a win-win deal. What are the key benefits to TWG?

NJL: When we began The Word Guild, there were certain “givens” in terms of the book publishing industry in Canada. 

            A. Few people (including staff in Christian bookstores) were even aware there were Canadian writers who were Christian.

            B. Since there was virtually no publishing in Canada, you pretty well had to get published in the United States, and the fact that you were Canadian was rarely mentioned, even in Canada.

            C. There was a stigma that Christian books published in Canada weren’t very good, since most of them were self-published.

So the benefits to The Word Guild are the ability to get a lot of Canadian writers’ work in one book, you have clearly Canadian content, and you have a terrific book published in Canada.  And an extra 30,000 copies are being given out across the country.

WEN: To this day, many people—including staff in Christian bookstores or church librarians—may be surprised to hear that authors published in the U.S. such as Janette Oke or Mark Buchanan are Canadians. Yet today, I’d estimate at least 95% of the product in Canadian Christian bookstores is American. The Word Guild has done a lot in the last 10 years to change public perceptions, but we’ve to a lot more to do.

A Second Cup of Hot Apple CiderYes, the Hot Apple Cider books are a win/win situation for everyone. The writers help the humanitarian ministry of World Vision. World Vision gets a valuable gift to distribute at its events. The writers get their work directly into the hands of 30,000 potential buyers. Attendees are excited to receive a gift, and become aware that Canadian writers are worth reading. They hopefully become more interested in seeking out Canadian writers, so they can read stories relating to their own country, their own culture, their own history, their own neighbours.

Janet: The quieter member of the That’s Life Communications publishing team is Les Lindquist, who’s been assessing the changing trends of publishing and handling contracts and other details.

NJL: Without Les, there would be no organization called The Word Guild, no publishing of Hot Apple Cider, nada.

Janet: I’m thankful to be a contributor to A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider, and have enjoyed reading everyone else’s stories. The anthology has the same restful artwork as the first volume, and it’s a delightful gift book as well as one to keep at home. Dare I ask if there’ll be a volume three?

NJL: We hope so.

WEN: Some experts say that writing a good book is just 10 percent of the work, promoting it effectively is the other 90%. So although we’ve made history by holding over 150 promotional events in seven provinces since the book was released, we’ve only scratched the surface of what could be done to make more people aware of this great book. Helping A Second Cup reach its potential and its audience is the focus for now. But building on everything we’ve done to expand the series would be great.

Janet: With the intensive editing behind you, what projects are you working on now?

NJL: I basically stopped writing close to ten years ago when I began the process that ended up in the founding of The Word Guild. I feel that A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider is a fitting finale for my years of involvement in virtually every aspect of The Word Guild. It meets our initial mandate of having a team of people working together, helping people develop their skills, and working together in marketing and promotion.

I have about 24 books I’ve begun in the past, and I want to get busy on finishing some of them. High on my priority list is the third of my Manziuk and Ryan mysteries, and then I have a fantasy I need to figure out what to do with, and some other novels and non-fiction, including a memoir. I have lots to keep me busy.

WEN: I have lots to keep me busy too. Like N. J., my energies were completely used in writing and editing related to The Word Guild or Hot Apple Cider books in recent years, with time for just a few freelance articles. I’m working on developing several non-fiction books I’ve envisioned, as well as using my experience to produce some e-books and webinars geared to teaching writing.

Janet: I look forward to what we’ll see from you both in the future. The Lord continue to equip and bless you, and to accomplish great things through you.

Interview: The Editors of A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider

Since A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider: Words to Stimulate the Mind and Delight the Spirit was released in May 2011, the book’s writers have participated in more than 150 readings and signings in seven provinces.

A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider is an all-Canadian book that is receiving five-star reviews. The inspirational collection of stories by writers who share a Christian faith perspective contains short fiction, poetry, and personal experience articles, all of which provide hope and encouragement. [See more about the extensive cross-Canada launch.]

The book signings continue, and they’re listed on the Meet Us page of the hotapplecider.ca website. If there’s one near you, drop in to say hello!

In the January/February 2012 issue of Faith Today, reviewer Violet Nesdoly wrote, “Though the writing styles  are varied, the book [A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider] was skilfully edited to preserve  the individual  voices while  providing  a smooth  read.” [Faith Today review, part one and part two.]

The anthology’s co-editors, N.J. Lindquist  and Wendy Elaine Nelles,  did an amazing job of pulling the selections together, and they’ve taken time to answer a few questions:

Janet: A year ago now, you were both putting in some incredibly long hours to get the book ready for print. The initial work had started in August 2010, and for four months (October/10 to January/11), you were working seven days a week. You barely took time off for Christmas or New Years. This is the second volume of Hot Apple Cider, and you knew what you were getting into. What made you believe so strongly in the project?

N.J. LindquistNJL: Back in 2007, I was very frustrated because there were so few Christian books being published in Canada and there was very little support. When the opportunity arose to work with World Vision Canada, to have Canadian books given out at their events, I was determined to find a way to do it.  That led to Hot Apple Cider in 2008, which was written by 30 authors who had already published books.

However, I really wanted to have an open call for stories so that newer or unpublished writers could have a chance to be included. I knew that if the opportunity to produce a second book arose I would grab it. It was a terrific opportunity to help a whole bunch of new writers learn about the editing and promotion process, not to mention having their voices heard. And it also means another great book going out to readers.

Wendy Elaine NellesWEN: We believe strongly in the project because of all the many benefits it creates. We’ve showcased 60 Canadian writers who write from a Christian faith perspective in the two books. The first book became a Canadian bestseller, and the second book is well on its way. Mainstream stores like Chapters/Indigo are willing to stock it and hold book signings. Christian book retailers are becoming more aware of Canadian writers.

Janet: I know from personal experience that you didn’t just take whatever stories people turned in (my first submissions didn’t make the cut). Briefly, what submission criteria helped you choose the best of the best?

NJL: The pieces had to fit our themes, they had to be new (not reprints), they had to have originality and good writing, and the writers had to be willing to make changes and, ultimately, to trust us—or at least be willing to dialogue with us if they disagreed with a change we suggested.

Janet: Many of the final selections came in much rougher form than readers see in the book. The two of you make a formidable and effective editing team. I’ve heard contributors say they wished all their publishers edited like you do. Not only does this give a stronger result, in some cases it’s an investment in the development of new writers.

NJL: Thanks for your comments. Yes, there was a lot of editing. I’d say maybe 10 to 15% of the pieces required only minimal work on our part. Several final pieces actually involved combining two (in one case, three) smaller pieces.  A number were almost completely rewritten or reordered. But we didn’t mind investing our time and energy if we felt the writers were learning, and of course, if we felt the resulting book would be great.

We could have rejected pieces that needed a lot of work, or picked more pieces that were okay but not great, or we could have gone in and made the changes on our own, but we wanted the writers to be involved in every part of the process, so they would understand the many facets of good editing, from concept through substantive, fact-checking, copy-editing, and proof-reading.

WEN: Publishing the two Hot Apple Cider books is being done for higher purposes. N.J. and I both invested much of the past decade in founding and building The Word Guild and directing the Write! Canada writers’ conferences, and working on these books is being done with the same vision, the same passion and philosophy. Our goals are to bring glory to the God we serve, to help readers who need to read these books, to strengthen the Canadian Christian writing and publishing community, to develop members of The Word Guild to become better writers, and to raise the bar of professionalism.

So we were willing to invest vastly more time and energy into the editing process than any other “commercial” publisher would, whether secular or Christian. From a strictly business or financial viewpoint, publishers can no longer afford the intensive editing and mentoring of promising writers that we were willing to do. So the Hot Apple Cider books are unique projects, which the publishers Les and N. J. Lindquist who own That’s Life! Communications were willing to do. 

NJL: As to how we work, I tend to lean more toward the bigger picture things such as concept editing, substantive editing and general flow, while Wendy is much better at seeing inconsistencies, fact checking, grammar, and details in general.

WEN: We both did all the levels of editing, from developmental down to copy editing, on all the pieces. But we each came at the pieces from different viewpoints, experiences and skill sets, so we each would spot different things. It’s a prime example of the teamwork The Word Guild has been trying to exemplify since its inception 10 years ago. And it proves the old adage, two heads are better than one.

NJL: Wendy and I each read and discussed each piece, then we each did first edits on about half. I did the poetry and short stories and some of the non-fiction while Wendy stuck to first edits on non-fiction. Then we switched and each did a second edit of the one the other had done first edit on. Then each piece went to the writer, who could agree or disagree, add or delete as suggested, and so forth. Then we did the process a second time, and then a third time, each time getting more detailed and hopefully having fewer and fewer things to change or correct. This went on until all three of us were satisfied (Wendy, me, and the writer).

WEN: Some pieces went through three “back and forths” with the writer to get to the final version, others went through seven or eight.

Janet: I’m not sure where you found time to write, but you each contributed a piece for the anthology as well. Was it difficult editing one another’s work without that second, impartial editor?

[For NJ’s and Wendy’s answers to this and more, read the rest of the interview.]


The most extensive launch ever done for a Canadian Christian book

Since A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider: Words to Stimulate the Mind and Delight the Spirit was released in May, the anthology’s 37 writers have participated in more than 150 readings and signings in seven provinces.

This all-Canadian book, which is receiving five-star reviews, is an inspirational collection of stories by writers who share a Christian faith perspective. It contains short fiction, poetry, and personal experience articles, all chosen to provide hope and encouragement.

The contributing writers have held launch events at venues ranging from bookstores, public libraries, churches, and conferences to farmers’ markets, craft shows, summer camps, and apple harvest festivals. The authors are carrying out promotional events throughout autumn—the perfect season for relaxing with a heart-warming book while enjoying a cup of hot apple cider.

I’m the sole Nova Scotian contributor to this all-Canadian anthology, and I love being part of this team of writers from coast to coast. And I cannot say enough good things about our editors, N.J. Lindquist and Wendy Elaine Nelles, whose attention to detail goes above and beyond reasonable service.

Janet Sketchley and Evangeline Inman at Miracles Christian Store

Miracles Christian Store in Halifax, Nova Scotia, hosted a book signing this fall with Evangeline Inman (New Brunswick contributor) and me. Owner/Manager Heidi Nelson says, “A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider is a wonderful read and a great gift idea for any reader on your list. The stories are both heart warming and inspiring, from a wide array of talented Canadian authors.”

Everyone involved in the Hot Apple Cider anthology series is a member of The Word Guild, a national association of over 400 Canadian writers and editors who are Christian (www.thewordguild.com). Editors N. J. Lindquist and Wendy Elaine Nelles co-founded this organization in 2001.

The first book in this groundbreaking series, Hot Apple Cider: Words to Stir the Heart and Warm the Soul, has nearly 45,000 copies in circulation. A Second Cup is well on its way to bestseller status as well.

Both books received five-star recommendations from the respected Midwest Book Review. It calls the stories “touching and poignant… a reminder that there is something good in the world.”

The books are published in Canada by That’s Life! Communications.

A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider and Hot Apple Cider are available through most bookstores and other retail channels, and make ideal choices for Christmas gift giving. To find out about upcoming author events in your area, or to download free Study Guides for book clubs and discussion groups, visit http://hotapplecider.ca.

[Post adapted from a press release created by Wendy Elaine Nelles.]

A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider Offers Refills of Heart-Stirring Stories

A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider Offers Refills of Heart-Stirring Stories

This new inspirational anthology follows in the footsteps of the groundbreaking first volume, Hot Apple Cider, an innovative, all-Canadian bestseller whose grace-filled stories received an enthusiastic response from thousands of readers.

In A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider, readers will discover more than 50 honest stories written from the heart. The book contains moving true-life experience, thought-provoking drama, light-hearted humour, imaginative fiction, and touching poetry.

The short pieces—each of which contains a complete story—make it easy for readers to pick up the book and read something satisfying and uplifting when taking a break from their busy schedules. While there’s lots of variety, all of the pieces are filled with hope and encouragement.

“The Hot Apple Cider books aren’t sweet and sentimental. Instead, they’re empowering, because they reassure you that you’re not alone, that God is at work in your life, that good will come out of the struggles you face, and that every person matters,” says publisher and editor N. J. Lindquist.

“We added 40 more pages to this book, so we could fit in extra pieces,” explains co-editor Wendy Elaine Nelles. “We were delighted to discover so many talented writers from across Canada, some of whom are being published for the first time. Among the 37 writers, you’ll be sure to find some new favourites.”

As was the case with Hot Apple Cider: Words to Stir the Heart and Warm the Soul, everyone involved with this book is a member of The Word Guild, an association of nearly 400 Canadians who write from a Christian faith perspective.

Through The Word Guild, the contributing authors donated half the cost of printing 30,000 additional copies of A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider for World Vision Canada. In turn, this Christian relief, development and advocacy organization is offering the books as gifts to all those participating in Girls Night Out and Couples Night Out.

A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider, which will be sold through bookstores and other retail channels, will be launched nationally this spring, making it the perfect choice for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, or summer reading.

To find out if there is a booksigning or other event planned for your community, keep watching the Hot Apple Cider Meet Us page. You can read the full press release from That’s Life Communications here.

My connection: I’m excited to have a non-fiction story included in A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider, and from reading the advance review copy I know this is an excellently-crafted anthology. There will be a Nova Scotia launch as part of the Canada-wide one. Details TBA.

You can read endorsements on the Hot Apple Cider site and become a fan on Facebook.

For more information, review copies, interviews, or to inquire about participating in the national book launch (April 30 to May 7), contact Lisa Hall-Wilson, Publishing Intern, at That’s Life Communications.